Marubeni and Antofagasta Decide to Expand Centinela Copper Mine, Aiming to Double Copper Concentrate Production Capacity

According to an official announcement from Marubeni Corporation (“Marubeni”), the company has partnered with Antofagasta plc to invest in the expansion project of Minera Centinela copper mine located in Chile.

The consumption of copper has historically been linked to the urbanization, electrification, and infrastructure development in developing countries. Recently, it has also been associated with the rapid growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy, both essential components of the green transition. However, on the supply side, copper production is not expected to increase significantly due to declining ore grades, resource depletion, and challenges in developing new mining operations. As a result, long-term forecasts indicate a potential copper supply shortage, intensifying the supply-demand imbalance.

The expansion project includes the construction of a new concentrator plant approximately 7 kilometers south of the existing one, with the aim of doubling the production capacity of copper concentrate. While the current plant processes ore from the Esperanza and Esperanza Sur deposits, the new plant will handle ore from Esperanza Sur and Encuentro deposits to produce copper concentrate. Upon completion of the expansion, the annual total copper production of Centinela copper mine is expected to increase by approximately 140,000 tons, ranking it among the top 15 copper mines globally. This growth will result in Marubeni’s equity share of copper volume increasing at a rate of around 40,000 tons per year. Additionally, the production of gold, a by-product of copper mining, is expected to make Centinela one of Chile’s leading gold producers.

The low impurity content in the copper concentrate produced by Centinela copper mine will make it a crucial raw material for smelters worldwide, including those in Japan, contributing to the stability of global copper supply. The estimated cost of the expansion project is $4.4 billion. Since Centinela copper mine plans to secure project financing, it is expected that the shareholders will contribute approximately 40% of the expected cost. The construction is set to begin in 2024, with production commencing in 2027.

Centinela copper mine is committed to sustainable copper production and places a strong emphasis on environmental management. This includes the exclusive use of seawater for operational needs, 100% utilization of renewable energy for electricity generation, and the adoption of concentrated tailings storage methods. Innovative technologies are employed to enhance employee safety and production efficiency. Notably, the mine has initiated the first-ever operation of autonomous haul trucks by a private company in Chile and has established a comprehensive remote operations center in Antofagasta, further enhancing operational efficiency. As a recognition of its commitment to “Responsible Production,” Centinela copper mine obtained the Copper Mark* certification in 2021, affirming its dedication to industry-leading sustainable practices.

Since its initial involvement in the development of Centinela copper mine in 2008, Marubeni has continuously collaborated with Antofagasta to explore the potential of expansion projects, leveraging the abundant resources in the Centinela region. The purpose of the expansion project is to scale up the operation of Centinela copper mine, which holds a leading position in the world in terms of production and cost competitiveness. Additionally, Marubeni has designated its green strategy as a key policy for enhancing corporate value and has defined it as a core component of the medium-term management strategy GC2024. Under this framework, Marubeni categorizes its copper and related businesses as green businesses and is committed to continually pursuing stable supplies of sustainable copper while achieving broader business growth.

[Source – 上海有色网] 丸红与Antofagasta决定扩建Centinela铜矿 力争将铜精矿生产能力提高一倍

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